Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (2023)

It can feel like magic when you get an answer from us here at Overleaf with a precise solution to a problem with your project. In fact, we've collected some tips and tricks to help us identify and solve LaTeX problems, and we want to share some of the most common ones in this post.

  • Is there an error or a warning?First, look for the "Output Files and Logs" icon to the right of the "Create New" button.

    Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (1)

    Warning messages are displayed in orange. Often these are just warnings that LaTeX has found something unusual and made automatic adjustments. They may not affect the final appearance of your document and can be ignored unless you want perfect markup behind the scenes as well. For example, LaTeX fixes many floating and margin/gap issues without requiring user fixes.

    Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (2)

    Error messages are displayed in red. They are generally more problematic and either prevent the document from compiling correctly or indicate a larger problem. You must correct mistakes in almost all cases.

  • Is the document fully compiled?

    If the document still compiles despite the error message, you may think you don't need to worry about it, or you may want to defer debugging while you work on the document's content. However, we recommend that you fix errors soon after they occur. When many errors accumulate, it can be difficult to determine the cause of the problems, and the accumulation of many errors can cause the compiler to time out.

    (Video) My favorite LaTeX Tricks to save time

    Also note that even if a PDF file is created, there will be compilation errors, the PDF file may not contain what you expect. If you get an error or warning message and the document won't create, it's time to investigate further.

  • Does the message indicate a specific error or line number?

    Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (3)

    In many cases the LaTeX engine is smart enough to figure out the exact error and provide a line number. In the above example there was a "$" symbol, which in LaTeX you need to escape like this: "\$". The error message still states that the error is on line 15, highlights the appropriate line, and displays a snippet of text where the problem is located. You can click on the error message to go directly to the file and line number where the error occurs in the source code.

    If no line number is specified, continue with some of the following steps.

  • Is there a specific error message that might provide clues?

    Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (4)

    In the partial example of the error message above, no line number is given, but the message indicates that the error preventing compilation is a BibTeX problem. You can tell from the text of the rest of the message that's why.Bibthe file is empty or theprincipal.texFile has no bibliography called. If the error is not obvious, continue.

    (Video) (UPDATED) LaTeX Tutorial 7: Errors and Debugging

  • Is it a "timeout" error during compilation?

    In some cases, users may encounter compilation timeout errors under certain conditions. This is due to resource/compilation time limitations on our servers. We have different time limits for free accounts and paid accounts depending on whether you are logged into or not. We have some tips forGet your document compiled faster, and if that doesn't work, please contact us with asupport request.

  • Try the forums!

    If no line numbers are given and you can't decipher the error message provided, a quick "copy and paste" trip to your favorite search engine may reveal information from more experienced users who have experienced a similar problem. Some excellent TeX related forums includeLaTeX-Stack-SwapjLaTeX-Community.

  • Check the entire log file

    Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (5)

    If you've tried all the above steps and exhausted all the information in the error and warning messages, but still don't know anything, it's time to view the full log file. At the bottom of the message dialog in the top right corner of the screen, you have the option to clickgo to first error/warningÖOpen latex recording. Choose the latter and click to download the .log file for the failed build to your document. Open it with a text editor and carefully read the document from end to beginning, looking for possible errors. Search for keywords likenoteÖMistake, message banners and document names/line numbers where available. Also, use a search engine and forums to understand news. Sometimes the log contains more specific information than the shorter message dialogs.

  • Compare previous versions and undo changes

    (Video) LaTeX: troubleshooting

    Did you make major text changes in your document? Did you install any new packages?\usepackage{}, or did he make other editions of his preface? If your project has compiled correctly in the past, it is likely that you introduced a bug into the project when you last made changes. On the back there are two ways to undo the last changes. These areThe versionjStory.

    Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (6)

    IsThe versionThis feature allows you to explicitly save versions of your document and experiment with edits, comparing multiple versions and reverting to a previous version. You can access this feature using the Versions button in the top left corner of the back page above the editor.

    Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (7)

    If you haven't saved any versions or haven't saved recently, click the history button shown above, which is just above the text editor next to the Comments button.

    Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (8)

    The history feature gives you access to a 24-hour history of recent changes to your project and documents. In cases where you need to go further back in time, please contact us with asupport requestand we can revert to a previous version.

  • Try moving \end{document}

    (Video) How to write a thesis using LaTeX **full tutorial**

    If you haven't scaled it down yet, try this little tip. Cut text:\end{document}from the end of your main.Texasand try to paste and undo it multiple times in different parts of your project. Start with the main .tex file and any sub-files that you use to call your main file\Verboten{}Ö\contain{}. Methodically move from the end of the project/document to the beginning of the document and repeat this process section by section. Pay special attention to equations or other complicated sections that are subject to minor errors.

    This tip is designed to help you gradually narrow your document down to a smaller and smaller document until you can isolate the section that contains the error. If the document suddenly starts to compile, you'll know you've found the wrong section. In many cases, the problem can be as simple as an incorrect command, an unescaped special character, or a missing square bracket.

  • Download as ZIP and check support files

    Sometimes you may find an error or warning message or notice in your log file indicating that there is a problem with a helper file with a non-.tex extension, such as . B.bbl, .aux, etc. In these cases, examining the problematic auxiliary file can lead you to the source of the problem in the main .tex and .bib files. This is particularly common with complicated BibTeX errors, where an error indicates a problem with the .bbl file, which is an intermediate file created from the .bib and .tex files during the build process.

    Tips and Tricks for Troubleshooting LaTeX (9)

    If so, you can click the buttonDownload as ZIPin the bottom left of the project's file menu, above the Dropbox button. ChooseInput and Output Filesas shown in the example above and load a.ZipperFile on your computer that contains all of your original input files, as well as auxiliary and output files created during the compilation attempt. You can open the possible culprit file in a text editor and search for the identified problem. Often this indicates a line number or a piece of text that you can search for in the original file.

  • Try compiling locally

    If you have a version of LaTeX, preferably TeXLive, installed on your computer, you can also try compiling your project locally in the TeX editor of your choice. This is particularly important if you have exhausted all other options and suspect that there may be a specific problem with our website. In our experience, most errors and warnings are LaTeX problems, and page-specific LaTeX problems are fairly rare. This is because we used a default install of the latest full version of TeXLive in the latest Ubuntu Linux Long Term Support release. If you do not have a local LaTeX version installed, we will be happy to test it for you.

    (Video) Latex Common problem and solutions

    If your document is compiled locally but not on the back side, the most common causes are compilation timeouts, or using unusual templates or packages that don't come standard with TeXLive. See here for more detailsCompile timeout error. And if you have your own packages or templates that are not supplied with TeXLive by default, you can always load them into the project folder and call them up in the same way\usepackage{}.

  • Contact us!

    Finally, send us ansupport request! No matter what your problem is, be it LaTeX specific or page specific, we are happy to help you get the most out of your Overleaf experience.

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